Mother and son prepare for first deployment to Afghanistan
A mother and son duo are gearing up for their deployment to Afghanistan this month, as part of a unit with the United States Army National Guard.
The deployment marks the first time Spc. Holly Parker and her son, Spc. Andrew Parker, will be sent to Afghanistan. While they are being deployed together, Holly and Andrew will be fulfilling different roles while in Afghanistan.
Holly and Andrew have served in the National Guard for about two years.
As a human resource specialist, Holly will work in administration while Andrew, a unit supply specialist, will be responsible for providing anything from t-shirts to building materials. Despite this being the first deployment for mother and son, both are confident in their training and in each other.
“I feel ready. This is what we've trained for,” Holly said. “It's such a blessing to be serving alongside him [Andrew].”
Andrew commented that he felt they are prepared for their deployment, while also acknowledging he's grateful for the opportunity to serve with his mother.
“It's comforting to know I'll be going over with a family member,” he said.
When asked what inspired them to join the National Guard, Holly and Andrew cited family as being the primary catalyst for enlisting. Holly said she knew from a young age that she wanted to serve her country as a soldier, which was partly due to her father's background as a military recruiter.
“He basically recruited me at the age of five,” she said.
Like Holly, Andrew said his desire to enlist was due to the fact the military has taken care of his family. His father, and Holly's husband, Randal Parker, has served in the military for 24 years. Randal is not being deployed with his wife and son.
Having his wife and son deployed to Afghanistan makes him a “little nervous,” but Randal's pride at seeing them serve is evident.
“I'm very proud of the fact that they both get to serve,” he said.
While Randal has experience being deployed overseas, he said one of the challenges of each deployment is that they are all different. He said he doesn't want his wife and son going into Afghanistan with preconceived ideas based on his experiences being deployed, since their time in a foreign country could be very different.
Family and friends of the Parker's had a chance to wish them well during a Blue Star Service Banner ceremony at the Benjamin Berry Post no. 50 in Unity Saturday, July 27. The Blue Star Service Banner is presented to families with a loved one serving in the armed services, according to fact sheet about the banner provided to The Republican Journal.
The banner was designed and patented in 1917 by World War I Army Capt. Robert L. Queser who had two sons serving on the front lines. The banner is an 8.5-by-14-inch white field with one or more blue stars sewn onto a red banner. Each blue star represents a family member serving and a banner can have up to five stars.
Banners were presented to Randal and Holly Parker; Andrew and his wife, Leigh, Parker; Randal's parents, Gerald and Linda Parker; Holly's parents, Robert and Claire Hamilton; Randal's grandmother, Wilma Stewart; Randal's brother, Kurt H. Parker; Holly's sister, Melissa Lizotte; and Holly's brother, Gregg Hamilton.
Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.
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